Monday, July 1, 2013

Was That the Earth Moving Under Our Feet?

Although you may not have felt it, on July 1, 2013, the earth certainly moved under the feet of DME suppliers across the country. It was the beginnings of a tectonic shift in how consumers will get their home medical equipment and supplies. Cracks began to show up on the surface of the DME world over the past months but on July 1, fissures began to open up that will swallow a large number of suppliers and the patients they serve. How bad this movement will be is uncertain and it will be weeks before the impact will be known. In the meantime, there is work to do.

The last thing this industry can afford to do is let the shock of July 1 cloud the more urgent need to take every possible action to expose the truth about the CMS DME bidding program. Never has the need for DME suppliers to not give up the fight been greater.

Transition to this new world order for DME will be anything but smooth, and every supplier has a duty to not only insure that the problems are exposed, but also to insure that every member of Congress is engaged. 
We must somehow help Congress get past partisan politics, past the purported savings touted by CMS, and past the mid-term election blinders. We know that literally hundreds of members of Congress agree that there are problems with the current DME bidding program, now we must get them to act.

Remember that most action by Congress is constituent driven; in other words, voter driven. Since a third of the Senate and the entire House will be campaigning to keep their jobs, we must make sure that the problems with the DME bidding program are laid squarely at the feet of these elected officials.

Do not give up the fight until we have lost this war, and we have not lost yet, we just have to change our battle plan. The flawed bidding program has begun, but it will not succeed. If we believe that it is wrong, then we also believe it will not serve patients well. The problems and patient complaints must be gathered and shared with Congress.  Additionally, the impact on suppliers, both contract winners and those not receiving contracts, must be shared with Congress.

State associations and suppliers everywhere must step up their advocacy game. Yes, we are all weary of the fight that has been raging for years, but we have the forces of good on our side. Yogi Berra said, “it ain’t over til it’s over,” and this fight is far from over.

Here’s what you can do:
  1. Contact Congress—demand a delay for Round 2 and ask for support of H.R. 1717
  2. Get patients involved—ask them to make three calls to register their complaints
a.       Congress (1-202-224-3121)
b.      People for Quality Care Medicare beneficiary hotline  (1-800-404-8702)
c.       CMS (1-800-Medicare / 1-800-633-4237)

If you need help with how to fight back, contact Wayne Stanfield, the vice president of provider relations at AAHomecare. His email address is and his phone number is 202-372-0757.

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